JUNIATA COLLEGE’S 2000 SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS
(Posted October 31, 2000)
Juniata College will induct its sixth class into the institution?s Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, November 4, at the Ellis College Center on campus. The evening will begin with a reception in Gibbel Lobby of the Kennedy Sports+Recreation Center at 5:45 p.m. and will be followed by the dinner and hall of fame ceremony at 7:00 p.m. The formal induction program will begin at approximately 7:45 p.m.
A total of seven inductees will be honored this year. Those to be inducted include Rhonda Bygall '90, Mike Culver '87, Carmen DeFrancesco '75, Henry H. Gibbel '57, John B. Montgomery '21, Mark Rucinski '85 and Joe "The Toe" Veto.
The following is a profile on each 2000 inductee to the Juniata College Sports Hall of Fame.
Rhonda Bygall '90 (Volleyball): A member of the 1989 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III first-team all-American squad, Bygall was a four-year letter winner for the Juniata College women's volleyball team. In addition, she was tabbed as a 1989 ASICS/Tiger all-American second-squad selection and was a Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) all-star as a junior and senior. At the time of her induction, she ranked first in career blocks (662), sixth in all-time kills (1,243) and ninth in career hitting attempts (2,639) at Juniata. On the single-season charts, Bygall owned the second (184), fourth (177) and sixth (146) best block totals in program annals. As freshman, she was second on the team in blocks (146) and fourth in kills (183). During her sophomore campaign, she hit .357 from her middle hitter spot and was second in the blue and gold camp with 177 blocks. As a junior, she led the team in blocks and was third in kills, while during Bygall's senior season, she tallied 113 rejections and 376 kills to rank second on the squad in both categories. Juniata went 127-27, won four MAC championships and advanced to the NCAA Division III semifinals in all four of her years on College Hill.
Mike Culver '87 (Football, Baseball, Coach): A two-sport athlete at Juniata, Culver was a three-year letter winner on the football and baseball fields. He was a starter at quarterback from his sophomore season through his senior year and he led the gridiron program to a 20-11-1 mark during that time, including 8-3 as a junior and 9-2 as a senior. During his final campaign, Juniata was ranked as high as fourth in the national Division III poll. Culver led the team in passing and total offense each of the three seasons and was the team's most valuable back in 1986. At the time of his induction, he was one of only two Juniata quarterbacks to run for over 1,000 career yards and he was ranked fourth on the career passing efficiency chart (131.72). He also held numerous program records at the time of his graduation, including all-time marks for completions (406), pass attempts (756), passing yards (5,799), total offense (6,834) and touchdown passes (55). On the baseball diamond, Culver was an outfielder and a power hitter. At the time of his induction, he ranked 25th in career batting average (.325) and 15th in all-time doubles (18). Following graduation, he spent two years playing professional football and coaching in England, where his team advanced to the national semifinals. Culver returned to Juniata in the late 80s and spent time on College Hill as an assistant football coach and head women's softball coach..
Carmen DeFrancesco '75 (Football): A four-year letter winner and a three-year starter at tailback for the Juniata College football team, DeFrancesco has gone on to establish himself as one of the finest high school football coaches in the state of Pennsylvania. He was a team captain for the blue and gold gridiron squad as a senior, when he was a Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) first-team all-star and an honorable mention all-state pick. That same year, DeFrancesco led the team in rushing and total offense with 682 yards and received the program's Dr. J. Harold Engle '23 most valuable back award. He was also a junior on the College's 1973 Stagg Bowl team. At the time of his induction, he ranked eighth in rushing yards (1,469), 10th in all-purpose yards (2,404) and ninth in kickoff return average (19.7) on the Juniata career charts. DeFrancesco was a successful high school assistant coach for Joe Diminick (all-time winningest coach in Pennsylvania high school football history) at Mount Carmel High School, before moving on to be the head coach at Cardinal Brennan, Danville and Shamokin Area high schools. After guiding Cardinal Brennan's program to a 13-8 record in two seasons, he spent five years at Danville and posted an impressive 40-16 mark. DeFrancesco accepted the post at Shamokin in February of 2000.
Henry H. Gibbel '57 (Basketball, Manager, Friend): Introduced to Juniata College athletics at an early age through his father keen appreciation for College Hill athletics, Gibbel has spent the majority of his life following the institution's intercollegiate athletic program. He was a manager on the football team for three years, including the 1955 squad that participated in the 1956 Tangerine Bowl. His time around the football team at Juniata did not end with his graduation. For a period of 20 years, beginning in 1953 through the 1974 campaign, Gibbel never missed a blue and gold gridiron tilt, home or away, with the lone exception being the 1958 season when he lived in Kansas City. Overall, he has attended hundreds of Juniata sporting events, including both football bowl games (1956 and 1973) and several of the women's volleyball squad's national semifinal/final appearances. Gibbel is a trustee whose volunteer service to Juniata and Juniata athletics has been instrumental to the success of the department for many years.
John B. Montgomery '21 (Football, Track & Field): Montgomery is the lone member of this year's class to be inducted posthumously. One of the advocates for beginning football at Juniata College, he organized and played on the first football team in 1920. The squad recorded the program's first gridiron victory with a convincing 28-0 win over Shippensburg. In addition, he was a letter winner in track and field and participated in the highly-competitive Penn Relays during his days on College Hill. Montgomery was a long-time supporter of Juniata and served on the Board of Trustees. In 1952, he was awarded an honorary degree from his alma mater. In 1979, he was the recipient of Juniata's Alumni Achievement Award. Throughout his professional career, he helped Juniata graduates who where entering medical school and he followed their progress closely. In addition, Montgomery's son, who will be accepting the recognition of his father, and two of his three grandchildren are Juniata graduates.
Mark Rucinski '85 (Basketball): A four-time most valuable player for the Juniata College men's basketball program, Rucinski was the lone College Hill player, at the time of his induction, to score over 1,000 points and pull down 1,000 rebounds in his career. He still ranks first on the career rebounding chart (1,002) and sixth on the all-time scoring list (1,310) at Juniata. During his junior season, he established a blue and gold single-season record for rebounds (309). His senior total of 281 caroms ranks fourth on the same list. Overall, Rucinski averaged 14.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per game throughout his Juniata tenure. A two-year captain, he made an immediate impact on the men's basketball program by shattering a backboard while dunking a basketball during his first day on campus. During a 10-day trip to Belgium his junior year, he was named the most valuable player of the Gembloux Holiday Tournament. Following graduation, Rucinski played three years professionally in France and Luxembourg and averaged 30+ points and 15+ rebounds during his career.
Joe "The Toe" Veto '56 (Football, Baseball, Coach): After an outstanding playing career at Juniata, Veto went on to become a successful educator and coach in western Pennsylvania. He started his coaching career as an assistant on Juniata's 1955 team (8-0-1) that played in the 1956 Tangerine Bowl. He was a four-year starter and letter winner with the Juniata football team as a tackle and kicker. In 1954 as a senior captain, he became the blue and gold's first athlete to be named to the Associated Press (AP) Little All-American first team. He was also tabbed as a Williamson Little All-American first-team member as a senior and was an AP all-state first team selection. Veto received Juniata's George L. Weber '40 "Most Outstanding Lineman" award in 1954. At the time of his graduation, he held the program's records for extra points and field goals in a career. He played on Juniata's first two undefeated teams (1953 - 7-0; 1954 - 8-0). He was a member of the Juniata baseball team in 1952. Following graduation, he played in the Canadian Football League for the Edminton Eskimos until and injury ended his playing career. He also played for the Cleveland Browns organization in the preseason. As a high school football coach (both head and assistant), Veto's teams reached the WPIAL playoffs five times and won two championships. He also coached track, cross country and baseball on the scholastic level.
Contact John Wall at email@example.com or (814) 641-3132 for more information.